Pharrell Williams hit song, ‘Happy’ rang out through the auditorium as hundreds of gatherers smiled and even giggled at the slideshow in front of them. It was hard to believe that this was a memorial service.
Last week I was fortunate to attend the memorial service of a brave little boy whom we had met through Bear Cottage. While it was a heartbreaking occasion, the service also had a profound effect on me. You know those moments in time that forever change you? For me, this was one of those moments.
Since Aidan’s diagnosis I have planned his funeral service many times in my head, and even on paper. Listening to the radio in the car, I can’t help but hear a melancholy song and bank it away as a potential funeral song. However, this memorial completely changed my thinking about funerals and how we would eventually farewell Aidan.
Yes, there were tears and outpourings of grief but it was mostly a celebration – a celebration of a wonderful little boy and his remarkable family. The sad and depressing songs were replaced by upbeat tunes, including songs by The Wiggles and from the Lion King, as the gatherers held up coloured candles before a casket surrounded by toys and balloons. His extraordinary family told anecdotes of his life and recalled the joy he had brought them. It was the complete antithesis of my previous thinking.
His family didn’t need to fuel their grief with sad and depressing songs, it was obvious they loved their little boy and were heartbroken by their loss but they wanted to celebrate his life.
There is no doubt that Anthony and I will be equally devastated when Aidan goes but there have been so many amazing memories, so many ways he has made us laugh that it now seems amiss not to honour these happy times. How wonderful will it be to recall with our closest family and friends the little ‘Aidanisms’ that make him so unique?
As I was driving in the car the other day, one of Aidan’s many favourite songs came on the radio. Not caring who was staring at us when we were stopped at the traffic lights, Aidan and I danced and sang along to Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feeling’ with all our might. It was one of those magic moments that remind you why you have children in the first place and one that will stay with me always.
There’s a saying, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. Last week’s memorial service reminded me of just how important this quote really is. I will be forever grateful to this family for opening my eyes to new possibilities.